La Leche League Leaders

La Leche League Leaders
La Leche League Leaders

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Myths of Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I heard quite a few myths from well meaning friends and family. One in particular was that I had to rub my nipples with a wash cloth to toughen them up for nursing. Thank goodness I just thought that was silly and didn't go on with that one!

I am lactose intolerant so another one that stuck in my mind was that a mother must drink milk to make milk. A healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins is all that a mother needs to provide the proper nutrients to produce milk. Calcium can he obtained from a variety of nondairy foods such as dark green vegetables, seeds, nuts and bony fish. No other mammal drinks milk to make milk!!

Another one that really bugged me was the idea that parents shouldn't hold their babies or they will spoil them. Babies who are held often cry fewer hours a day and exhibit more security as they mature. I never understood the rush to get a baby to be independent and I see looking back how nice it is to have that time to cuddle.

My two children had frequent ear infections. (yes breastfed babies do get sick) I was told perhaps the lying-down nursing position causes ear infections. I frequently nursed lying down to get some rest myself. Because human milk is alive and teeming with antibodies and immunoglobulins, the baby is less likely to develop ear infections overall, no matter what position is used.

I also had a doctor tell me that after "X" months my breast milk was of no value nutritionally. The myth that the quality of breast milk begins to decline after six months is ridiculous. The composition of human milk changes to meet the changing needs of baby as he matures. Even when baby is able to take solids, human milk is the primary source of nutrition during the first year. It becomes a supplement to solids during the second year. In addition, it takes between two and six years for a child's immune system to fully mature. Human milk continues to complement and boost the immune system for as long as it is offered.

Once I had these facts and others in my toolkit I felt more confident to make the choices I did for my family. Feel free to comment and tel us what myths you were told and how you handled them. You can find more "common myths" by clicking here.

Have a great day!
~ Naomi

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